UFC President Dana White’s relationship with former US President Donald Trump goes a long way back. Trump helped Dana in the initial days of the UFC, when no one considered MMA to be a legitimate sport. White, on the other hand, has always been loyal and supportive of Trump, which is rare as CEOs of large companies tend not to associate themselves with any political figure or ideology.
However, MMA fans are of the opinion that White has invited trouble for his company because of his friendship with the former President. The Federal Court has certified a class-action lawsuit against UFC, which was originally issued against the promotion in 2014. UFC has received constant criticism for fighter pay and being a monopoly, and now a lawsuit involving 1200 fighters can be a real threat to the promotion.
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A fan wrote, “Since when is a monopoly illegal in a capitalist country?”. Another fan blamed White’s friendship with Trump for this development: “Government teaching Dana/UFC for endorsing Trump, no doubt”. Another Instagram user was of a similar opinion, as they wrote, “Bullsh*t lawsuit by a communist government, all because Dana is cool with Trump.”
There is no official response from UFC or Dana White regarding this matter, but a lawsuit of this size can severely hurt the promotion.
What does a class action lawsuit mean for the UFC?
As per a report by Bloody Elbow, Federal Judge Richard F. Boulware granted the plaintiffs class certification on Wednesday, August 9. If the plaintiffs, who are led by Cung Le, a former Strikeforce fighter, win, the UFC may have to pay damages amounting to $811 million to $1.6 billion.
The major aspects of the lawsuit are the three main allegations against the UFC:
- Enforcing contracts that unjustly restrained fighters and limited their options in an anti-competitive fashion.
- Utilizing “extracontractual methods” that effectively extended the duration of fighter contracts indefinitely
- Acquiring rival leagues, some of which were forced to close down, with the intention of upholding their dominant position.
A judge is finding that the UFC (and by extention WWE) did not 'Outpromote' anyone or anything of the sort, they used money, intimidation, ultimatums and other illegal tricks that all fall under Anti-Trust/Monopoly laws to attain top dog status and KEEP it.
— 𝕏ucci Luciano (@KidCoheed) August 9, 2023
Cung Le, the primary plaintiff in the case, himself used to fight in Strikeforce, which got absorbed by UFC in 2012, and Le fought for UFC last in 2014. UFC’s parent organization, Zuffa LLC, had also bought Pride FC and some other rivals. Bellator and PFL are too big for the UFC to be purchased, but the latter is way bigger than these two, and every fighter’s dream is to ultimately fight under the UFC banner.
A point was also raised regarding fighter pay by the lawyers for the plaintiffs, who complained that the UFC pays its fighters only 20% of its revenues from an event, while boxing and other major sports pay an amount above 50% at the same time.
What do you think about these recent troubles for the UFC and Dana White? Were these steps necessary to stop it from being a complete monopoly?